Jackson County Opinions...

July 3, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
July 3, 2001

Patriotism Is More Than Flags, Fireworks
Maybe it is appropriate on this day (July 4) for Americans who are observing the birthday of our nation to think about the issue of the day ­ patriotism.
So often, patriotism is neatly wrapped up in images of saluting the flag, of fireworks, parades, of songs that arouse our nationalistic feelings. Unless we give some thought to the word, we cheapen it and we reduce the strong feelings for our country to the insincere.
We have largely reduced patriotism to the idea of saluting the flag, singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. None of those are bad, but they do not define patriotism.
You consider yourself a patriot. I consider myself one as well, but I dare say our ideas about how to demonstrate that are different. Take the issue of the flag.
I believe the flag should be treated with respect ­ but that it is just a symbol of a country that, at the moment, is the most powerful and (in my opinion) the best in the world. That flag symbolizes, among many other things, our constitutional right to free speech. That, in turn, gives those who disagree with what our country is doing the right to burn the American flag in protest. I have never reached a level of disgust with American policy that would lead me to support flag burning, but such an event is imaginable.
More troubling is the disrespect the flag-waving public shows for our national standard. Some think it is patriotic to wear clothing made from elements of our flag. The weaving of the stars and stripes in red, white and blue into shirts is meant to suggest patriotism; I think it shows disrespect for the flag. Others use the flag for marketing, as though we should do business with them because they advertise that they're patriotic.
To me, the patriots are the citizens who understand the responsibilities of citizenship. They pay their taxes, obey the laws and they vote. They respect the rights of others, including the right to be different; they understand that Americans come in all shapes, sizes, colors and religions, that they have differing cultural values, heritages and histories. They may or may not have a flag pin on their lapel, but they do understand that the freedoms we have were bought with the blood of earlier generations and are not to be taken lightly or surrendered without thought.
Patriots may be Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or Independents; they may be Baptists, Catholics, Jews or atheists. Their forefathers may have been on the Mayflower, or standing on the shore watching as it unloaded. They may be fresh off the boat, or a generation across the border.
We don't demonstrate our patriotism by saluting the flag or reciting the Pledge. We show it by daily actions that indicate we appreciate what America is, has and offers and that we understand that the greatest freedom our country provides is the freedom to be ourselves. We love our flag, but we cherish the freedoms that make us the envy of the world.
Let's remember that waving the flag and reciting the Pledge don't make us patriots. It's how we live.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
July 3, 2001

Loyalty supports 126 years of publishing
Last month, this newspaper marked its 126th year of publishing. That's a long time for any enterprise and makes The Jackson Herald Jackson County's oldest business.
We've often wondered what sparked the birth of this newspaper in 1875. The Civil War was still fresh in the minds of area citizens and Georgia was struggling to overcome the devastation wrought from that conflict. Yet, that difficult era saw the birth of many local newspapers across the state and nation. Indeed, it seems as if the turmoil of that time helped to nurture and feed the fledgling press.
Today, of course, times are different. In just the last two decades, newspapers have undergone a technological revolution that is difficult to measure. The advent of the personal computer has automated many of the manual functions that were common to newspapering until just a few years ago.
Along with that, the quality of most newspapers has increased as production has become easier and quicker. One obvious example has been the expanded use of color photographs. Until just a few years ago, the production for color photographs was very difficult and expensive. Now, computers and digital cameras make color photo production fast and easy.
But while the technology of newspapering has changed, the fundamental role of newspapers has stayed the same. We report on events that happen in the community and we attempt to provide a leadership role in addressing some of the key issues facing our citizens.
For the last 126 years, The Jackson Herald has been a part of the Jackson County community - we have seen the county through good times and bad. We've reported and commented on both.
But it is our readers who have made us successful. Your loyalty is what keeps us putting words on the page and your interest in Jackson County is what drives our reporters to the dozens of meetings and events they cover each month.
And as long as we have loyal readers, this newspaper will continue to grow and flourish for another 126 years to come.

 

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Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
July 3, 2001

Jefferson recreation program a mess
There's a fight brewing in Jefferson and the outcome may leave a lot of parents hopping mad.
For a number of years, recreation programs in Jackson County have been mostly run in a loose-knit fashion. With the exception of Commerce, which has its own city recreation department, rec sports have been coordinated between the county recreation department and volunteer community booster clubs from all over the county.
That system hasn't always been perfect. The county department has been up and down over the years. But for the most part, the system worked.
As the county has grown, so has the number of kids participating in local recreation programs. That is especially true in Jefferson, where the number of kids playing sports surged over the last couple of years. The program grew so much that it became apparent the city needed to create its own recreation department to help coordinate the programs currently done by volunteers.
It's basically a good idea. In addition to coordinating recreation programs, the city also needs someone to run its pool and summer day camp programs.
That department was created last year, but in the process of putting it in place, egos have gotten in the way. The result is that a mess of problems are on the horizon unless the city finds a way to get a handle on its infant program.
In a nutshell, the problems with the city recreation program can be laid at the feet of city councilman Bosie Griffeth. After being named as the council "liaison" for the department, Griffeth has been a one-man wrecking machine, creating problems every time he opened his mouth. The result has been even less coordination with the county recreation department and a serious strain between the city and the rest of Jackson County. In the process, he even managed to anger the volunteers who had been running the program.
Here's just one example: The fields used for recreation baseball games are on city school property, but the utilities for those fields have been paid by the volunteer recreation booster club. That was true even when the Jefferson High School girls' softball team practiced and played - the recreation boosters still paid the water and light bills. Efforts to change that were met with resistance - the girls' high school booster club apparently didn't want to pay its share of the cost during its fall season.
When the city created its recreation department, it was agreed that at the end of the spring baseball season, the city would take over responsibility for the fields' utilities. But in June when volunteers attempted to have the utilities switched, it was blocked by Griffeth. For several days, the city refused to switch the water service and give the volunteer booster club a final bill. Griffeth had apparently ordered water department employees to not cooperate with the volunteer group. Only after Mayor Byrd Bruce got involved was the matter resolved.
Griffeth also reportedly told booster club officials he wanted to see their books and indicated the city wanted both the money and equipment owned by the private non-profit organization.
That, of course, didn't set well with the volunteers who had worked to raise the money and purchase the equipment. While there had been some questions about booter club funds in the past, those issues were resolved with new leadership this year. Wisely, booster club leaders refused that demand and both the equipment and funds were secured in a safe place out of Griffeth's grasp.
But that is just the beginning of the problems. What city officials are just now discovering is that because Griffeth has caused such a strained relationship with both the local volunteers and the county recreation department, they are isolated and without much support. Any child in Jefferson will still be able to participate with the county recreation program and could, therefore, bypass the city altogether. If a lot of kids did that, it would decimate the city recreation department.
For one thing, the city doesn't own any recreation equipment. It will take tens of thousands of dollars to purchase all of the necessary equipment to field football teams this fall, money that is not in the city budget. Soccer will also take some startup funding. And unless the city can undo the damage Griffeth created with the volunteer booster club, it won't have any baseball equipment in the spring.
But an even larger problem is that the ill-will created by Griffeth has some outside the city wanting the county recreation department to not schedule games with the Jefferson department. That could mean that those who play in the Jefferson league would have to travel elsewhere to find opponets.
All of this could have been avoided had the city created its department the right way and paced its growth. There's no doubt the city needs someone to run its summer program and to coordinate with the county on scheduling and other details.
But the city cannot afford to create an independent recreation program in a single year and it cannot afford to alienate the parents and volunteers who have worked to build the area's recreation leagues.
Because of ego and arrogance, Jefferson's efforts to create a viable recreation program are teetering on the brink of disaster. And if it fails, there's going to be a lot of mad moms and dads standing before the city council this fall wanting to know what happened.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorial
The Commerce News
July 3, 2001

Independence Day
Today (Wednesday) is Independence Day, supposedly set aside to remember the founding of our nation by men willing to risk the wrath of the world's greatest power to make it happen.
Alas, for the most part, July 4 is just another day off. No complaint about having the day off, mind you, but the percentage of Americans who use any part of July 4 to consider the remarkable events leading to the creation of the United States of America is minuscule. Independence Day is a day to watch auto racing, to go to the lake and to violate Georgia's restrictions against the possession or use of fireworks.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a watershed moment in the creation of this country, but it had to be followed by years of war against England, then the world's superpower. And, when the patriots finally pulled it off, those hard-won freedoms had to be painstakingly made into national law through the creation of the United States Constitution.
Those events now remain condensed into a few days of study in American History courses and a footnote in the early days of summer, resurrected now and then for a new movie or book set in those times. The freedoms we retain today did not come easily and they have survived through the blood and sweat of countless men and women. Remember that today. Remember what we celebrate.


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